This article reexamines two classic social history texts, These Are Our Lives (1939) and Like A Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (1987), and the oral history interviews on which the books where based, in order to explore the potential value for historians of including questions about disability experiences in their work. Although disability experiences are discussed in the personal narratives of mill workers, historians have not discovered how to use these stories in their analysis of the past. This article suggests ways of using disability stories in order to enrich our understanding of textile mill history, while also helping to lay the foundation for a new field of historical inquiry, disability history. It argues that it is time for historians to review the work they have done and the sources they have used, and to reconsider what they have lost by not including disability issues in their work; that it is time to revisit many of the primary written and oral sources social historians have used and discover what historians have missed about what people have been saying concerning disability; that it is time to try to imagine disability as a socially constructed phenomenon having a history.

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pp. 919-933
Launched on MUSE
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